I’m in the Winter Issue of Faerie Magazine!

Faerie Mag winter issue_6_6 JPG

 

Check out the winter issue of Faerie Magazine to see an article on my Repurposed Christmas Tree Lady – a great way to reuse your Christmas tree after the holidays. It is such an honor to be featured in this beautiful magazine once again.

Don’t forget to schedule a free painting estimate and/or landscape design estimate before the busy spring season starts back up. Estimates are always free and painting contracts come with a free color consultation. It can be tricky figuring out what different shades will look like once they’re dry, but I have helped many clients find just the right hue they wanted. Call 773-517-1198 or e-mail me to set up an appointment!

[Photo taken by Jim Meacci]

Custom Cedar Raised Beds

Have you been itching to start a vegetable garden this summer or have another use for a raised bed in your garden? Contact us for quality, custom built cedar planters at a reasonable cost!

Why use a raised bed?

Raised beds are ideal for small spaces or areas where the soil quality is poor.

In colder climates, it is also easier to work the ground and get the soil ready after the winter.  This allows for better drainage and deep rooting, often producing a higher yield in vegetable gardens.

Covering your raised bed with a thick layer of mulch helps keep the moisture in, reducing the need for extra watering and helping your garden to thrive in potential summer droughts.

Why use cedar specifically?

Cedar contains natural oils that prevent rotting and make these raised beds more durable without the use of chemical treatment.  It is a more expensive wood but will also last longer than other woods.

[Source: http://www.growveg.com/growblogpost.aspx?id=173]

Here are some pictures of raised beds built for a client’s landscape in Chicago.

custom cedar raised beds

custom cedar raised beds

custom cedar raised beds

Enjoy Warm Summer Nights with a Moon Garden

As we approach summer, I love to daydream about warm summer nights outside on the patio, gazing up at the stars.  Some of my most peaceful and calming times have been outdoors enjoying nature in all its glory.

Question: What is the perfect compliment to a quiet evening in the backyard?
Answer: A moon garden!

What is a moon garden?

A moon garden is a garden composed of white flowering plants that creates a “glowing” effect once the sun goes down.

Where can you put a moon garden?

Anywhere.  Moon gardens are very versatile in nature and can be designed to accommodate almost any space in your landscape as well as under a wide variety of sunlight and soil conditions.

What do you need for a moon garden?

A space – any size – in your landscape, a variety of white-blooming plants that are appropriate for your garden’s sunlight and soil conditions.  Call 4 Seasons to schedule a free estimate.  We would love to find the perfect plants for your space!

 [Photos courtesy of Lurveys Plant Finder]

Save the Monarchs with a Butterfly-friendly Garden!

MonarchFor a while now, the population of monarchs has been rapidly decreasing as farmers spray pesticides to get rid of weeds, including all types of butterfly weed – the host plant of choice for many butterflies, especially monarchs.

As you begin to plan your garden or landscape, 4 Seasons would like to encourage you to consider planting some of these “weeds” to help conserve these beautiful creatures. As you can see in the pictures below, these plants will not only add gorgeous color to your yard but will attract beautiful butterflies to your space.

Earth conservation is a definite passion of mine and I would be happy to provide a free estimate to anyone who desires to install one or a few of these plants to their garden. Placement and proper installation are key to ensure they grow well and thrive. All garden installations come with care instructions for each plant, shrub and tree as well.

If you would like to help with this initiative even further, visit Make Way for Monarchs.  They have detailed information on legislation affecting the monarchs as well as other events and things you can do to help save these exquisite critters from extinction.

[Photos courtesy of Lurvey’s Plant Finder]

4 Seasons Recommends: Succulents

Succulents are a wonderful plant for adding texture and color to a room, garden or any space. They come in wide varieties and are low maintenance, requiring little watering. During the winter, be sure to keep them in a room with a lot of sunlight as they prefer warm conditions.

I keep quite a few succulents in my home and garden as they provide a variety of texture and color that I simply love. I hope you enjoy the pictures of my little “collection” below and are maybe even inspired to bring a few into your own home.

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 seasons recommends succulents

4 Seasons Recommends: The Hydrangea

hydrangeaHydrangea from my indoor garden

You probably recognize this type of non-hardy hydrangea from all of the garden stores and home centers. It’s a common indoor plant, especially around Mother’s Day. I love the hydrangea for more than just its blooming beauty though. This plant comes in a wide variety (many of which are suitable for outdoors) and can flourish in a wide range of light conditions. The adaptability and beauty of this plant make it one of my preferred choices for landscapes. Let’s take a look at some of the different varieties now.

hydrangea closeup

The non-hardy hydrangea is an indoor plant that brings loads of beautiful blooms right inside your home. This plant does best in indirect sunlight and usually requires consistent watering. The indoor variety is not as hardy as its outdoor counterparts and will eventually stop blooming. You can then replace it with a different indoor plant or a new hydrangea. This plant is nice for temporary decor or to give as a gift and is truly a beautiful blooming plant. Its outdoor varieties featured below are some of my favorites though, so please take a look!

Endless Summer Hydrangea, LurveysEndless Summer Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

Unlike the indoor hydrangea, the hardy hydrangea shrub that can be planted outdoors, is a very versatile, low maintenance plant that is suitable for almost any garden type. The hydrangea comes in a variety of colors and has a variety of bloom types as well. The lacecap hydrangea produces smaller berrylike blooms in the middle of larger flower blooms, giving it a lacy feel. Other hydrangeas come in a variety of shapes and colors and can accomodate almost any color scheme. My personal favorite is the Endless Summer Hydrangea because of its bright blue blooms (pictured below). Its vibrant spring color is hard to beat!

Lacecap Hydrangea, LurveysLacecap Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

One of my favorite ways to hide a fence or create a natural border for a garden is with the Climbing Hydrangea. Like most hydrangeas, this vine grows well in shade and full sun. Its versatility and beautiful blooms make it a favorite with many clients looking for a climbing plant.

Climbing Hydrangea, LurveysClimbing Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Oakleaf Hydrangea is another one of my favorite shrubs because of its versatility and year round interest. Producing the characteristically beautiful hydrangea blooms in the spring, and brick red foliage in the fall, it’s red peeling bark add to this shrub’s year round interest. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a generally low maintenance shrub which grows well in shade to full sun, making it also a very versatile plant.

Oakleaf Hydrangea, fall, LurveysOakleaf Hydrangea in the fall [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Pee Wee Hydrangea and Munchkin Hydrangea are smaller versions of the hydrangea shrub that are great for compact gardens. The color choices for these shrubs is not as prolific as with the regular hydrangeas, but they are just as versatile and the blooms are just as beautiful. This is a great choice for a small garden, especially in the city where extra space can sometimes be a rare commodity.

Pee Wee Hydrangea, LurveysPee Wee Hydrangea [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

Hydrangeas can also be trained to grow in dwarf tree form, which can be purchased at your local nursery. These dwarf trees have the traditional spire blooms of the hydrangea but have been trained to have a stump and more treelike shape. It’s an untraditional look for the hydrangea that will certainly add unique interest to your landscape.

Hydrangea Tree, LurveysHydrangea Tree [photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The variety and versatility of the hydrangea is almost unmatched. Regardless of the light conditions of your yard and the size of your space, the hydrangea is a great choice for almost every landscape!

Getting Ready for Summer Entertaining: Spruce Up Your Outdoor Patio

Spring is finally here! That means it’s the perfect time to start thinking about barbecues and summer entertaining outdoors. Here are a few key ways you can spruce up your backyard patio so that you’ll be ready for your first BBQ in no time. I found this helpful article on Houzz (while you’re there, check out my new professional Houzz profile!) that made me reminisce about all of my experiences sprucing up the patios of my own clients through the years. Here are some of the things I learned and some of the beautiful backyard spaces I enjoyed creating for them.

After you’ve given the patio an overall cleaning, swept, removed dead plants and any junk or debris left from last year or the winter, think about the overall look you want to create in your space. Are you fond of a certain color scheme or style? You can use the internet, take a stroll through a garden center, or hire a professional (wink, wink) to help you with the process of choosing plants that will compliment your taste and light conditions well. It is also important to consider the level of care you have time for and are willing to give to your plants.

rooftop01_a6

Adding container plants to the corners of your space can do a lot to soften the look of your patio while also adding pops of color and beauty to the space. I loved working on this client’s rooftop deck because I was able to add so much color through the variety of plants and different containers. If you need help choosing which plants are best for the light conditions of your yard, don’t hesitate to call and schedule a free estimate!

rooftop01_a3

Creating a border of container plants can define the edges, soften the look of a fence or even act as a fence alternative. I have created a variety of plant borders through the years for different clients. This client and I were able to choose plants that brought an understated elegance to their space that they (and I) love. I also made this space into a “moon garden” consisting of all white blooming plants that have a glowing effect in the moonlight.

backyard06_a3

Vines and trellises are another great way to hide or camouflage a fence. There are many varieties of beautiful vines and climbing flowers that can accomodate shady or sunny spaces. It should be easy to find one that would suit your taste and light conditions.

backyard_17

In this same rooftop deck I did for a client, we were able to create different spaces with the layout of the containers. It suited their needs and turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.

rooftop01_a1

Here’s to another fun summer filled with family, friends and lots of backyard BBQs! I hope these few tips helped you think about how you can get your back patio ready for summer entertaining and maybe even gave you a little inspiration! Don’t forget to leave me any questions or comments below. I appreciate your feedback!

4 Seasons Recommends: The Viburnum

Witherod Viburnum, full, LurveysBlue Muffin Viburnum, full, Lurveys[Photos courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Viburnum is a choice shrub for almost any garden. It comes in many varieties, but all grow well in partial shade to full sun and most produce beautiful, fragrant flowers in the spring.

Blue Muffin Viburnum, flowers, LurveysBlue Muffin Viburnum, berries, Lurveys

[Photos courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Blue Muffin, or Arrowwood, Viburnum grows well in shaded areas or full sun, producing beautiful white flowers in the spring that turn into bright blue berries in the summer. Many also choose the Blue Muffin for its deep autumn foliage that make this shrub a 3-season beauty.

Arrowwood Viburnum, fall, LurveysKorean Spice Viburnum, flowers, Lurveys

[Photos courtesy of Lurveys.com]

The Koreanspice Viburnum is one of the most fragrant of all shrubs and is low maintenance, requiring little pruning during the year. Its attractive white balls of fragrant flowers bloom mid-spring, and come autumn, you will witness its brilliant red leaves.

Arrowwood Viburnum, full, Lurveys

[Photo courtesy of Lurveys.com]

Viburnums are relatively low maintenance and can act as accent pieces or hedging for your garden. Some varieties are native to North America and thrive in urban environments with high levels of pollution.

The versatility, ease in maintenance and beautiful year round color make the Viburnum one of our favorites. Take a look at the pictures and let us know what you think!

Starting Seeds

container gardencontainer garden for a client

It’s hard to start thinking about Spring with so much snow outside (but how can you not with the promise of such beautiful flowers as above). If you’re planting heirloom seeds (which take a little longer to germinate), it’s just about time. And if you’re using other seeds, it will be soon! Here are some instructions on getting your seeds started so they’ll be ready to plant outside once it’s warm enough.

seeds on a wet paper towel

Materials needed:

Seed soil
Seeds
Empty paper egg carton, or a seed starter container
Spray bottle, filled with water

Instructions:

1. To get ready for your vegetable garden, fill each section of the paper egg carton or seed starter with seed soil and about 2 seeds per section.  If you want to try sprouting flower seeds in your home, you can also try wrapping them in a wet paper towel and sealing them in a Ziploc bag, as shown in the pictures.

flower seed showing a little sprout

2.  Use the spray bottle to spray your seeds with water, rather than pouring water over them.  This is my recommended watering method for new growth.  Often, sprouts are too fragile to handle water being poured directly on them and may never sprout or die as a result.  A couple squirts of water is gentle enough (and just enough) to keep your seeds and sprouts growing strong until late Spring.

bib lettuce sprouting in repurposed strawberry container

3. Be careful to only place one type of seed in each section/Ziploc bag, and label where you have planted each type of plant/vegetable for future reference.  Different plants often have different care requirements and labeling them will make it that much easier for you.  You’ll also be able to tell what worked and what didn’t for each plant type as time goes on.

 spinach sprouting (L); spinach growing in bigger container(R)

4. As your seeds grow, you may need to move them to a bigger container – please do so.  Some lettuces are fast growers and enjoy the cooler temps (spinach and others), so you may even be able to harvest and eat some before it is time to plant it outside.  If you don’t have the room to grow everything indoors, you may want to wait to plant the fast-growers seeds until a little closer to Spring.  Or, you can just enjoy your harvest before you even bring it outdoors!

parsley on my windowsill

5. Young plants need plenty of sunlight, so try to keep them on a windowsill or somewhere that gets plenty of sunlight for them to grow.

Happy planting!

New Seat Covers in 3 Simple Steps

I bought this cute retro cloth off of Etsy because I just had to incorporate it into my home somewhere.  A little while later – new chair covers!  The material is perfect as it’s durable and won’t wear from frequent use.

I bought it from Jodi Walter Jones’s Etsy shop, Sew Fine Fabrics and she made it so easy!  I just sent her the dimensions of my seats and she calculated how much material I would need.  I had very little left over, so she did an excellent job and I couldn’t be happier.  The proof is in the pictures – a little new material can really transform an old chair!

To revamp your own chairs, follow these simple steps.

diy seat coversMaterials needed:
Some old chairs
Durable material
New/Good scissors for cutting material
Iron
Staple gun
Screwdriver

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Remove the seats from each chair and clean each one thoroughly, removing any screws from the seat if necessary.  Measure the dimensions of each seat and cut the fabric to the appropriate size, leaving about 3 inches extra all around to wrap around and secure to the underside of the seat.  Iron the material so it’s smooth and wrinkle-free.

2.  Lay the material over the seat and wrap around to the bottom.  Beginning with the front side, staple the material underneath the seat, enough so that it is secure.  (You can fill in the empty spaces later to make sure it’s really secure. 🙂  Move to the sides, stapling the material underneath, finishing with the back so that any creases will be hidden back there.  Fill in with staples all around to secure.

3.  Use a screwdriver to screw the screws back into the chair over the fabric, just slightly and cover with tape (we used      painter’s tape) so it doesn’t fall to the ground.  Place the cushion on top of the chair seat and screw back in.

Voila!  New dining room chairs at a fraction of the cost!  Initially, I wasn’t sure how the green material would look with the black metal of my chairs, but I love the sleek, modern look of it.  What do you think?

diy seat covers

Soon, we hope to repaint some bedroom furniture.  Stay tuned!